Lawmakers took the Defense Ministry’s side when the Home Front Defense and Defense Ministries took their turf war to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on Home Front Preparedness on Thursday.
Last month, in a media blitz against Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan threatened to leave his post if the ministry is not given more authority.
Ya’alon insisted that home front security cannot be detached from his ministry.
The government did not assign either ministry full responsibility for the home front.
Subcommittee on Home Front Preparedness chairman Eli Yishai (Shas) said, “The current situation is a mess and there are conflicts between government ministries. So far, the prime minister has avoided making a decision on who gets what authority.”
“We are not appropriately prepared to deal with a missile attack on the home front and the time has come to make order,” Yishai said.
“In routine and emergency times, the responsibility must belong to the Defense Ministry, period,” Defense Ministry Director- General Dan Harel said.
The ministry should plan for emergencies and send manpower when they happen, according to Harel. The Public Security Ministry deals with natural disasters with the Defense Ministry’s help. More expansive events fall under the Defense Ministry’s purview.
“The Defense Ministry must take care of the home front, by a deputy minister or whoever is appointed to deal with the home front in the ministry. It should all be under one ministry.
The Home Front Command and its leadership are under the IDF and its chief of General Staff.
There is no reason for the Home Front Defense Ministry to exist,” Harel argued.
Harel warned that separating the IDF General Staff from the home front would be dangerous and pointed out that the IDF was responsible for 95 percent of the response to the recent snowstorm in the Jerusalem area.
Home Front Defense Ministry Director-General Dan Ronen said the prime minister gave all civil responsibilities to Erdan’s ministry, so there would be one place to turn to in an emergency.
“We’re currently responsible for the economy in times of emergency and the National Emergency Authority. To accomplish our job, we need to add the operational side, allowing us to have control over the Home Front Command,” Ronen stated.
Deputy National Security Council chief Ze’ev Tzuk-Ram said “Israel is not prepared.”
According to Tzuk-Ram, the defense minister should not have to deal with every rocket that falls and should focus on the front.
“What happens in Tel Aviv is the responsibility of the Public Security Ministry. It shouldn’t be the IDF’s focus,” Ram stated.
“The fact is, bomb shelters weren’t built [by the IDF] for years.”
Ram suggested that the Home Front Command ordinarily be under IDF control, but in case of an emergency, the IDF can assign personnel to work with those responsible for the home front.